|The three days of testing that took place at the Bahrain International Circuit had added significance as the first race weekend of the 2014 GP2 Series will take place on this very track in just two weeks’ time. It was therefore important for both Racing Engineering drivers, Raffaele Marciello and Stefano Coletti, that they worked on all aspects of their car’s behaviour, setting them up for both a fast qualifying lap as well as a quick race pace that made the best use of their Pirelli tyres. All the drivers had five sets of Hard compounds and two sets of Soft compounds for the three days of testing.
Wednesday’s morning session saw the teams faced with a dirty track so most drivers set out the early part of the session while they waited for the surface to become cleaner and have more grip. Two red flags later in the session meant that neither Lello nor Stefano went for a quick time and instead looked to setup their cars. At the end of the session Lello was 17th fastest on 1:42.231s and Stefano, who only completed 6 laps was 21st with a time of 1:42.405s.
The afternoon session saw both men improve their times with Lello an excellent 7th fastest on 1:40.932s, just 0.3 seconds away from the fastest time whilst Stefano continued to work on his race setup and was 18th on 1:41.394, less than 0.5 seconds behind his team mate.
Thursday saw the weather turn cooler with an overcast day and there was a little rain in the morning session. Once again Lello was setting some very quick laps on the softer compound Pirellis and after 33 laps he was 4th fastest with a best time of 1:39.704s. Stefano completed 22 laps and set his fastest time to date with a lap of 1:41.106s.
The temperature rose for the afternoon and both Racing Engineering drivers concentrated on race simulations and pit stop practice and did not try for a fast lap, Lello setting a 1:44.632s with Stefano right behind him on a time of 1:44.818s.
The final day of testing, Friday, which was once again overcast, saw both Lello and Stefano on the pace in the morning session with the young Italian driver 8th fastest with a time of 1:40.157s and his Monegasque team mate only a few tenths slower in 18th on 1:40.529s. The afternoon session saw both drivers working to fine tune their race setups so no fast laps were made, Lello setting a 1:45.395s and Stefano a 1:45.516s.
The Sanlúcar de Barrameda-based team will now begin their race preparations for the opening round of the 2014 GP2 series to be held here in Bahrain on the 4th to the 6th of April.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: “We’ve had three interesting test days here in Bahrain to prepare the first event which will take place in 10 days.
This was a new circuit for Raffaele, who has never driven at Bahrain before, therefore our goal was to help him learn the track and improve from there. Stefano already has some experience here, but he needed to fine tune several aspects for this circuit. We worked our way through an extensive test program and are overall quite happy from the insights we gained. Obviously it’s quite difficult to read a lot from the pre-season test results as all teams are trying different things at different times with different fuel loads and tyre compounds. But we are quite confident with our qualifying and race simulation, so we now have to work on the deeper analysis of this last test to prepare for the first race event of the season.”
Rafaele Marciello: “I am really happy with these test days that we’ve had, we improved a lot and I think we are ready for the first race. My target is to finish both races in the top 5 and score a lot of points.”